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What attendees said about the interfaith event at Morehouse College honoring President Nelson

‘You can always count on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ says the Rev. Carter

ATLANTA, Georgia — When a historic day months in the making finally came to a close, Quincy James Rineheart of Morehouse College took a deep breath to reflect on all that had transpired.

Nearly 100 individuals were inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel’s Board of Preachers, Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars; the inaugural Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize was given to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize was given to Dr. Ira Helfand; a future collaboration was announced between The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and the Morehouse College and Spelman College glee clubs; and thousands of people from the community came to witness it all.

As associate campus minister and member of the chapel staff, the Rev. Rineheart was heavily involved in the logistics of the event. And it was a success.

“We are closer, after tonight, to becoming the ‘beloved world community’ in which Dr. King dreamt of,” the Rev. Rineheart told the Church News.

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Morehouse College honors President Nelson with peace prize, announces collaboration with Tabernacle Choir

The WorldHouse Interfaith and Interdenominational Assembly at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 13, attracted an overflow audience of more than 2,600, including several leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Rev. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., founding dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, said after the event that it was the largest Caucasian audience ever to attend a Morehouse event, a goal he had for the annual WorldHouse Interfaith and Interdenominational Assembly.

“You can always count on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said with a smile from the podium.

Elder Vern P. Stanfill, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s North America Southeast Area, said of his experience at Morehouse: “We have felt very accepted and loved here.”

“I think a lot of wonderful things are happening. … We’re seeing this happen all over the South. The Church’s reputation in the South is not the same as it used to be, and it’s because of events like this, it’s because of people like this.”

The Rev. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., founding dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, speaks at the WorldHouse Interfaith and Interdenominational Assembly held in the King international chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 13, 2023. | Tiffany Bird, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A sense of brotherhood and sisterhood

Elder Matthew S. Holland, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the North America Southeast Area presidency, said of his experience: “It’s been an absolutely magnificent day. It’s been so inspiring to see these two communities come together with such an immediate and strong sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. It feels very much in the spirit of what President Nelson stands for, what he’s been teaching about peacemaking, extending yourself and connecting that whatever has happened in the past or may happen in the future, we’re brothers and sisters and we love each other. That spirit has been prevailing the whole time.”

Elder Holland said that during a luncheon for guests, the Rev. Amos C. Brown, senior pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, California, “stood and testified of the Prophet Joseph Smith with power and conviction. And from his community, to stand and speak of the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was just absolutely moving to see.”

The Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church, speaks at an induction ceremony at the Benjamin Elijah Mays Crown Forum and College of Ministers and Laity Induction Ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Listening is Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Michael Leavitt, president of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and former Utah governor, right. Elder Gerard and Leavitt were two of the inductees. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The Rev. Brown said in an interview that returning to Morehouse “means that I’m back at the foundation of my spiritual, intellectual and social justice strivings that I have been engaged in over 50 year.” He graduated from Morehouse in 1964.

“I applaud President Nelson for his great leadership in these times. … I think that if every spiritual community patterned its labor, its tenants after what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing now, we will indeed become closer to that day where we will truly be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” the Rev. Brown said.

A family’s perspective

Adam and Andrea Vincent and their family, members of the Cochran Ward in the Macon Georgia Stake, traveled more than two hours to attend the interfaith event. 

“Immediately I was completely enthralled in the fact that there was so much diversity, the prayers from different faiths, different kinds of music, different kinds of speech,” Adam Vincent said. The program began with an Islamic prayer, Buddhist prayer and Christian prayer.

Guests enter the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 13, 2023. | Tiffany Bird, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Andrea Vincent, who is originally from Chile, said it was a great event for her four children, ages 8 to 15, to experience. “I liked that it was a celebration of faith. … It was so cool to be here with so many people with differing backgrounds. I thought: ‘This is a great way to see that God loves everybody. We’re all children of God.’ … I hope my kids will remember it for a long time.”

When asked what they will most remember, 12-year-old Kayla said the music, and 15-year-old Bianca said the keynote address from Helfand about the danger of nuclear war. Helfand was recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and is co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The King international chapel and College of Ministers and Laity

In an interview after he was inducted into the Board of Preachers, Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars in the College of Ministers and Laity, Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy, explained more about what the induction means.

“The College of Ministers and Laity acknowledges those who have assisted in the effort to continue to move forward the vision of Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said. “They induct groups in three categories: preachers, scholars and sponsors. Today, Gov. Leavitt and I were honored to be inducted into their group of scholars, a Collegium of Scholars, of those who are part of the broader effort in the vision of Martin Luther King to bring about true equity and equality in our society and our culture.” Mike Leavitt is a former Utah governor and current president of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

Nearly 100 individuals were inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel’s College of Ministers and Laity on April 13, 2023, including Elder Jack N. Gerard, General Authority Seventy, and Mike Leavitt, president of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. | Tiffany Bird, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

During the interfaith event, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia welcomed those in the audience — specifically those from out of state — to Georgia and to the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. 

“Often called a beacon of the ‘beloved community’ and the most prominent religious memorial to Morehouse alumnus, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this is a home base for spiritual servants, scholars and thought leaders who are furthering the work of peace and justice in the tradition of Dr. King, in the tradition of Howard Thurman, and Benjamin Elijah Mays and others who have for decades used the gospel to advance the causes of peace and justice,” Ossoff said of the King international chapel.

He also noted that “the level of hate and division in America is untenable and cannot continue. … The level of hatred that we’ve seen rising in this country in the last 10 years is a path to our own destruction.”

Moving the work forward

Elder Peter M. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, said he hopes Church members see the historical significance of this event and how the Savior is moving His work forward. “We are here at a historically Black college. And we know the history of Blacks in the Church and what that may represent. But we’ve come so far, and we still have far to go; we’re not there yet. … 

“I hope people who are not here look to Jesus and see what this is all about, and how the Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ, is moving His work forward to unite His people, His children.”

Elder M. Andrew Galt, Elder Matthew S. Holland, Elder Vern P. Stanfill, Elder Peter M. Johnson, Tabernacle Choir President Mike Leavitt and Elder Jack N. Gerard, left to right, attend the annual Worldhouse Interfaith & Interdenominational Assembly at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 13, 2023.
Elder M. Andrew Galt, Elder Matthew S. Holland, Elder Vern P. Stanfill, Elder Peter M. Johnson, Tabernacle Choir President Mike Leavitt and Elder Jack Gerard, left to right, attend the annual Worldhouse Interfaith & Interdenominational Assembly at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, on Thursday, April 13, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Elder M. Andrew Galt, Area Seventy, said he had a conversation with Marva Carter, the Rev. Carter’s wife, about how a lot of individuals were in attendance who typically would not go to the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel.

“We were just talking about the fact that we’re all literally brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, all sons and daughters of God. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is. It doesn’t matter how we identify ourselves or what we believe or anything else. We’re brothers and sisters. And it’s just so beautiful. And this was a celebration of that tonight,” Elder Galt said.

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